"In the depth of her heart, every girl conceals a story."--Anu.
I knew Sameer from my high school days; Sameer the lover boy, Sameer the writer, Sameer the dream crush. He was there in everything superlative—campus fest, art fest, sports. He always scored the top marks in our class. I loved him. I would feel a movement down my underbelly whenever I met him and talked with him. I think I had a crush on him, like every other girl in our school.
But he was different from what I thought other boys to be. He was very sensitive and emotional; I knew that more than any one else, because I had seen him sobbing behind the boys’ room several times, whenever Rakhi finds excuses not to talk to him.
Rakhi was the girl he loved, the centre of jealousy for the whole school.
One day I saw him weeping, behind the boys’ room. I could see him from the girl’s room on the top floor. Later that day I found an opportunity to talk to him. He did not say much, though. Try as I may I could not prod him to speak. That was the day, for the first time I wished our relationship had not been like that. I was a friend to him, just a friend but close enough to share secrets. But we never had...a light moment or laughter together. Sameer was a jocular person, but he would wrap himself up with seriousness, when he approached me. I too felt it that way, slowly skipping inside a shield against humour. We smiled at each other as a sign of friendship, but never cracked a joke. Laughter could have diluted his emotional burden, I hoped in vein.
There are things in our lives that we do not expect to understand fully; just like the change in my life, after 12 years. I do not want to believe in fatalism, a part of me could not help it, though. Sameer is part my life now, but not just like a friend. We reunited after the high school at the company I work for. We have been colleagues for about a month now.
“What happened with Rakhi?”
“She got married the previous month.”
“Oh! I didn’t know.”
This was how we started our conversation sitting at a corner table in the crowded Indian Coffee House, like two characters from a boring novel I had read during my graduation. I felt, perhaps both of us had, the presence of an unbreakable crystalline object between us—an ice mound.
But it started melting, and there was a point, I would know, it would melt down completely, vanish, like there had been nothing of that sort between us, except my very own inhibitions and his shyness.
“I wanted to commit suicide after her marriage,” he said.
I did not say anything. He still was the same Sameer and I still, the same high school girl, with a silent crush upon him. I felt my underbelly churning.
“So, that's how deep your relationship was. I understand. But seriously, I do really not know much about your relationship. You never told me. Now, can you share the whole story with me, if you don’t mind?”
“When did you propose to her; back when we were in high school?”
He took a breath. “I never proposed her.”
“WHAT?” I asked; eyes wide, my voice close to a shout.
“I never did. In fact, I wanted to. I wanted to tell her that I loved her. I wanted to write everything in a letter. But I couldn’t, ever.”
“Why?” I had to control myself not to make it a shout. I did not want to give him an impression that I was excited on the prospect of the conversation between us. But in truth, I was ecstatic.
“I was in a writer’s block.” He said.
I laughed. Aloud. That was the first time we did it together; we laughed. Maybe we will do it forever. It was then he proposed to me.
He touched my fingers and I felt a hole instead of my belly, as if it didn't exist.
The Days That are no More--4